Ian Wolfe was determined to become an actor even as a youth in his hometown of Canton, IL. His Broadway debut was in the warhorse Lionel Barrymore vehicle The Claw. While acting with Katherine Cornell in The Barretts of Wimpole Street in 1934, Wolfe was spotted by MGM producer Irving Thalberg, who brought the actor to Hollywood to re-create his Barretts role. Though not yet 40, Wolfe had the receding hairline and lined features necessary for aged character roles. By his own count, Wolfe appeared in over 200 films, often uncredited assignments in the roles of judges, attorneys, butlers, and shopkeepers. Some of his best screen moments occurred in producer Val Lewton's Bedlam (1946), wherein Wolfe played an 18th century scientist confined to a mental asylum for proposing the invention of motion pictures. Because his actual age was difficult to pinpoint, Wolfe kept working into the 1990s (and his nineties); he was a particular favorite of TV's MTM productions, appearing on such sitcoms as The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and Rhoda. Co-workers during this period noted affectionately that, despite his many years as a professional, Wolfe was always seized with "stage fright" just before walking on the set. Though often cast in timid roles, Ian Wolfe was quite outspoken and fiercely defensive of his craft; when asked what he thought of certain method actors who insist upon playing extensions of "themselves," Wolfe snapped that he became an actor to pretend to be other people.